9 January–15 March, 2019

Arriving at Reality

Robert Motherwell’s Open Paintings and Related Collages

Hong Kong H Queen's


Through his transformative paintings, insightful writing, and influential teaching, Robert Motherwell’s artistic practice formed the foundation of the acclaimed Abstract Expressionist sensibility. His profound contribution to contemporary art history situates Motherwell as a signal, yet under-recognized, figure in the Western canon. It is under this backdrop that Pearl Lam Galleries presents Arriving at Reality, a comprehensive dual-space solo exhibition of works by Robert Motherwell. Exhibiting at both the H Queen’s and Pedder Building galleries in a chronological manner, Arriving at Reality features both Motherwell’s seminal Open series of paintings as well as a survey of related collages spanning his five-decade-long career. In addition, the exhibition aims to contextualize Motherwell’s corpus through various forms of documentation that situates him alongside his peers.

Robert Motherwell (1915–1991) was the youngest member and unofficial spokesman of the Abstract Expressionists, the first internationally influential American art movement. The Abstract Expressionists, or the New York School as Motherwell famously named his cohorts, included masters such as Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Taken as a whole, the scope of Motherwell’s accomplishments is well beyond the realm of art: he provided the bedrock for an American understanding of modernism through his editorial and written work.

The exhibition’s title, Arriving at Reality, is culled directly from the artist’s own writing and his belief that the function of art is to convey a humanist truth. As Motherwell stated, “An odd contradiction, if the layman were correct in his unconscious assumption that an artist begins with reality and ends with art: the converse is true—to the degree that this dichotomy has any truth—the artist begins with art, and through it arrives at reality.”

Selected works